PRINCE CHARMING

And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her.

Genesis 34:2.

  1. Eyes that Shouldn’t See You

That is the story of Dinah, the only known daughter of Jacob (although Genesis 34:16 speaks of “daughters”).  During the 600-mile journey from Mesopotamia (where Jacob had been on exile for about twenty years) back to Canaan (as instructed by the Lord), the family passed through Shechem, a city (or “country”) that bore the same name as its iconic prince.  At the transit camp of Shechem, Dinah took an outing with the daughters of the land, which was not a sin.  In the process of that outing, she was seen by the prince of the land, which was also not a sin; but that ‘seeing’ started a chain of events that led to the death of many and the extirpation of an entire community, to say nothing of the curse it brought upon her vengeful brothers and their generations years after.

Sometimes, bad things unplanned do start out of a good place, or bad things from an otherwise good thing.  When God prevents our feet from a place, it is not always because the place is bad; it could be because we could be ‘seen’ there by the wrong eyes, which could start the wrong chain of events that could lead to eternal regret.  The inherent goodness of a place is therefore not sufficient guarantee to be there.  There are eyes that should never see you, royal though those eyes may be. Some eyes are very royal yet very evil, royalty being merely a glamourous cover for their evilness.

  1. Dinah’s Shopping List

“And when Shechem … saw her…” – that was how it all started: when he saw her.  You can never tell how far a look might go.  You can never tell where every look ends.  Some looks are just the innocent start of an unpredictable marathon.

Dinah herself had gone out to shop with her eyes, and she was seen where she had ‘gone out’ to see.  “And Dinah … went out to see And when Shechem … saw her…”  She went out for something, and she got much more.  She got a mighty harvest of her own little seed.  She carried something in her that attracted its kind from out there.  She was ‘shopped’ by higher eyes where she herself had gone out to shop with her eyes.

According to some theological opinions, what took Dinah out might have been a public event, especially involving females.  The event was not intended for evil, but the wrong eyes saw her there, and trouble started for her, which continued to afflict others more in subsequent generations.  Sometimes we go out shopping and come away with items that had not been on our shopping list, some of them dreadful products attractively packaged.  Mind where you shop.

  1. When the Holy Spirit Seems to be doing Satan’s Job

Sometimes we find what we were not looking for in a good place where the Lord did not permit us.  At least twice, Paul was refused by the Holy Spirit from undertaking a missionary trip.  I ask, Is it a sin to go out to preach?    Does it not seem odd that a willing preacher should be “forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word”?   Was preaching the word not what Paul was anointed to do?  Didn’t the Holy Spirit want souls saved anymore?  It might have made more mortal sense if Paul’s team was being forbidden from going off to do something evil.  It might also have made more sense to mortal minds if Paul was being prevented from going out to preach a false gospel; but to be forbidden from preaching “THE WORD” does not readily look like what the Holy Spirit, of all spirits, should do.

At the second attempt, again, “the Spirit suffered them not” (Acts 16:6-7).  Should the Holy Spirit ‘hinder’ the ‘work of the Lord’?  Is it not Satan that does that?  How can the Holy Spirit forbid anyone from what they were commissioned by the Holy Spirit to do?  Only a few chapters before, the Holy Spirit had publicly said, “Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work…”?  How could that same Spirit contradict Himself by forbidding them again and again from their sacrificial efforts to preach nothing but “the word” (Acts 13:1-3)?  It doesn’t always make sense why God should prevent us from certain good places or good tasks.  Sometimes, it is to save us from being spotted by the wrong eyes in such good places.

Prayer

O Lord, save me this day from being seen by the wrong eyes, and keep my feet from going to places with the wrong eyes, no matter how good those places might be.  For any wrong eyes already focused on me, may they go blind now, in Jesus name. Amen.

 

  1. Marked?

Dinah was not the only girl in town.  She was merely one among “the daughters of the land” whom she had joined that fateful day in fun, in ‘familiarisation’ with ‘her community.’  How come she was the only one that was ‘seen’?  What marked her out from the rest?  Was it the ‘grace of God’ or the ‘enemy’ that would ruin her destiny that day?  Are there people who usually attract the wrong attention, even when they have done nothing to attract it?  Can a holy life attract unholy eyes?  Are there people that cannot hide, even in a crowd?  Are some people hard to be hidden, especially from danger?  Everyone went out for a party, it was she who got raped, also leaving a legacy of blood through the intervention of her violent brothers!  Why do some lives seem to easily attract trouble?

Prayer

O Lord, every mark upon my life that attracts the wrong attention, may it be blotted out by the blood of Jesus.  I take upon me the Marks of Jesus.  According to Galatians 6:17, _“From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus”_ (Genesis 4:15).  I receive upon myself the Marks that preserve from troubles and troublers.

Every garment marking me out for the arrows of the enemy, like those of King Jehoshaphat in wrong alliance with Ahab (1 Kings 22:30-33), I take them off from me and burn them now in the fire of God.

Every evil eye set to focus on me or already focused on me, may they go blind.  O Lord, deliver me from evil marks, evil garments, and evil eyes, in Jesus name.  Amen.

 

  1. Not Always in the Looks

Shechem the prince saw Dinah “and defiled her.”  Other Bible versions, such as the New Living Translation, say that he raped her.  That was not her aim when she planned her outing with the city girls.  She never thought that such a “prince” as that could debase himself to such incivility.  She took too much for granted, perhaps.  The potential for evil is not always written in the looks.

Dinah judged Shechem’s character by the fair traditions of her own family background, perhaps.  She took his title and status for granted.  It started with harmless eyes and ended in abominable intimacy.  It started ‘safely’ with a distant look and ended shamefully in a rape.  The rape had certainly not been as immediate as the look had been.

First, Prince Shechem probably sent her a ‘special’ royal invitation, which it was her great honour to accept.  A stranger invited at first sight by “the prince of the country,” to the palace, wow!  But it was a setup.  He might have flattered her beauty, her ‘foreign’ looks and accent, her enviable profile as a young ‘international traveller’ from so far away to somewhere still far.  He chose his words carefully and “spake kindly unto the damsel.”  His emotions were on fire and “his soul clave unto Dinah” (v.3), but there was a bait, and destinies were going to suffer for it.

The Prince certainly did not immediately invite Dinah to bed, even though that was the ultimate goal of the entire ‘project.’  Every proper bait conceals its snare.  She probably had never heard Mother-Fish’s lesson to Daughter-Fish: “Beware of ‘free food’ dangling from a long thread leading outside to an end you cannot see or trust.”  Never a fish swallowed a hook but food that sadly turned out ‘differently.’

 

Prayer

O Lord, open my eyes that I may see.  Grant me discernment of fair speeches and kind gestures. Unmask every Shechem in my way, in Jesus name. Amen.

 

  1. Rescue from the Princely Prison

Because of the rape of Dinah, her brothers contrived a plot for all the males in Shechem to be circumcised, as the only condition for their sister to be given in marriage to the prince, and for them to agree to settle down and become one with the people of Shechem.  Those people agreed.  Three days after the mass circumcision, when the penile cut was most sore, Simeon and Levi, who were Dinah’s brothers by her mother Leah and the two eldest sons of Jacob apart from Reuben the first, took it upon themselves to kill the entire male population.  They also killed the king and the randy prince, then they “took Dinah out of Shechem’s house” (vv.25-26).  In other words, Dinah had already moved in with the man, even before the nuptial transactions had been concluded.

Why was Dinah so quickly in the house of the prince?  Maybe she secretly desired the Prince after all. Maybe she was happy to be ‘free at last’ from the ‘prison’ of her rigid father’s house, no matter how the ‘escape’ came.  If that was the case, then Dinah was ensnared by what she had desired.  She fled one ‘prison’ for the worse.  Who knows how many more times that prince might have defiled that daughter of Abraham, before her brothers came to the rescue?  She may have been too naïve to think these through while the untried emotions surged through her young soul.

 

  1. Destiny Abortions

If one carefully studies the Shechem episode, it will appear that it was not all about Dinah; it was ultimately about aborting the eternal purpose of God for Jacob and for the nation of Israel; it was about frustrating God’s promise to Abraham.  The Dinah-Shechem affair was merely the tip of a grander plot.  Notice what the rulers of Shechem said to Jacob and his sons,

9 And make ye marriages with us, and give your daughters unto us, and take our daughters unto you.

10 And ye shall dwell with us: and the land shall be before you; dwell and trade ye therein, and get you possessions therein.

If Jacob and his sons had agreed to stop their journey at Shechem; if they had accepted to “dwell” there, there might have been no Promised Land in all its fullness after all; no Jerusalem with its King David some seven hundred years later, no Bethlehem and Jesus, no Jericho and Joshua.  If they had agreed to make that place their ‘possession,’ as ‘freely’ offered, they would have traded their blessed larger inheritance for a ‘pottage’ of little land in Shechem; they would have traded their future glory for a present pleasure.  Alas, the echoes of Esau (Hebrews 12:17).

If they had agreed to intermarry with those uncircumcised aliens to the holy covenants of God, the seed of Abraham would have been corrupted.  We may not have been speaking anymore of Jews but Philistines and Gentiles and Samaritans.  How then, as in Matthew chapter 1, might we have been tracing a pure Messiah from Father Abraham to the Virgin Mary?  How would we have been sorting His covenant pedigree through Philistines and polluted Samaritans?

The hidden agenda of the Shechem deals was not only to corrupt the covenant but also to stop Jacob and his team from their divine destination.  Had that happened, Shechem would have become another pleasant but calamitous Haran which ensured that not everyone who set out from “Ur of the Chaldees” with Abraham and Papa Terah made it to the land that God was taking them to.  They all started the journey out of Babylon towards Canaan, but when they got to Haran, that popular commercial midway city, they DWELT there” and some of them “died in Haran.”

After those deaths did the voice of God come to Abram, instructing him to depart from that attractive alternative place which seemed to have already become to him THY country” and THY kindred,” as if he were already naturalised there (Genesis 11:31-32; 12:1-3; Acts 7:2-4).  Although within Canaan territory, beautiful Shechem was thus the second snare in the path to the Promise.  It had not been all about Dinah but much more about destinies as a grandson generation got confronted in a different place with what had also confronted their grandfathers.

 

Prayer

O Lord, deliver me from every snare designed to stop me midway to my inheritance.  O Shechem, I reject your land and your guys and your girls.  I reject every hasty alternative to God’s impending promise.  My possession is in the Lord, not in Shechem.  Any generational battles monitoring me from my paternal or maternal lineage, may they expire this day, in Jesus name.  Amen.

 

  1. The Hidden Agenda

The Serpent will always dangle what you could get when you eat the forbidden fruit, not what you would lose (Matthew 4:8-10; Genesis 3:4-6).  Satan is a smart salesman, but he gives nothing for free.  Whereas the throne of Shechem, on the surface, was offering Jacob and his children their land and daughters, they had a different agenda.  What they said before Jacob was not what they said behind him.  While they seemed so generous and hospitable to Jacob and told him to “dwell with us … take our daughters … get you possessions therein,” they said to themselves, “Shall not their cattle and their substance and every beast of theirs be ours?” (vv. 10, 23).  They told Jacob, “You will TAKE and you will GET from us,” but what they didn’t say was that they were scheming to TAKE everything from him.  Beyond Dinah, their eyes were on what those people of God carried.

Beautiful Shechem and its handsome Prince are a fraud.  Shechem has his eyes on what you have, not on what he says that he can give to you.  He will TAKE from you much more than he makes you to believe you will GET from him.  You will be the worse, not the better, dealing with that ‘country.’  Sadly, sometimes, Shechem seems to value us more highly than we value ourselves; Shechem seems to know our worth much more than we generally do, with our blinded eyes on here and now, on girls and lands, and their seeing eyes on our glorious future that money cannot buy.

Some months ago, it was all over social media – Apostle Johnson Suleman telling of a young girl in his congregation who was offered, If I remember well, an initial five million naira, which got desperately scaled up gradually to two hundred million naira (that is, over a million dollars), with cars bought for her two friends to induce her, if only she would agree to sleep with the seducing very rich son of a dying billionaire far away in northern Nigeria.  That Christian girl wondered to herself, “If he would offer me so much just to sleep with me, then, poor though I am now, I must be worth much more than I realise.”  She would not concede.

Frustrated, that son travelled back to the north to meet his dying father, but not before confessing his mission, that the sorcerers of his rich father had seen her in their divination far away in Lagos, hundreds of miles away from northern Nigeria.  They were told that if they could trace that girl and the son could sleep with her, there would be a mystic exchange of destinies, ensuring that the father lived and got richer, as that girl would have been shortly dead through unexplainable circumstances.  That was sorcerous Shechem replaying, and one daughter of Abraham more resolute than Dinah.

 

  1. The Eclipse of a Destiny

If the twelve sons of Jacob had a profound place in the eternal plans of God, there may have been a place in that great plan for the only daughter also; but that seemed to have been eclipsed by an encounter once upon a time on the way from Mesopotamia to Canaan, in an unforgettable place called Shechem.  Born about 1751 BC, Dinah may have been fifteen or sixteen years old – a vivacious teenager – when she met Prince Charming of Shechem.  Being about four years older than Joseph who was born about 1747 BC and was thirty years old when he ascended the prime ministership of Egypt (Genesis 41:46), Dinah would have been in her mid-forties in the second year of the seven-year famine when she and the household of Jacob emigrated from the famine in Canaan to the supplies in Egypt (Genesis 46:5-8, 15).  That is the last we hear of her.

It is not known if Dinah had any seed.  The charming Prince might have stolen and sealed her destiny when they had their intimate encounter about three decades back.  Like her uncle Esau who sold his birthright for a plate of food, maybe it was also lamented of her when the time to inherit the blessing came, that she “sought it carefully with tears” but “found no place.”  She had traded her eternal treasures for the temporary pleasures at Shechem (Hebrews 12:17).  Shechem has eyes that still ‘see.’

Echoes from the Past

As Jacob lay dying, he called his sons for a prophetic farewell blessing.  Two of those sons received words that were a sad echo from the past; an echo of something they had done decades before.  These were his words:

5 Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruments of cruelty are in their habitations.

6 O my soul, COME NOT thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united: for in their anger they slew a man, and in their selfwill they digged down a wall.

7 Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel (Genesis 49:5-7).

Those were weighty words connecting the past to the present and the future; words analysing the sad present as the product of a violent past.  Let’s proceed to analyse those farewells.

  • An Address for Cruelty

The habitations of Simeon and Levi had already become (not would become) a haven for “instruments of cruelty.”  In other words, it would always be possible to find guns, swords, cudgels, barbed words, and other instruments of brutality (rather than instruments of love and affection) in the homes and offices and cities and regions of those tribes.  To visit them was to enter a den of death and dismay, not a house of peace and loveliness.  Alas, the endless tears and heartbreaks of being connected with such folks!

It does not say, “instruments of cruelty WERE in their habitations,” which would have been the accurate report of what had happened at Shechem.  The use of the present tense “are” instead the past tense “were,” appears to suggest that the violent action of those two brothers at Shechem at once opened an evil gate to ruthless ‘residents’ that since have not gone away.  More than two and a half centuries later, that spirit was to catch up with one prominent son of the tribe of Levi: Moses.  God sent him to speak to a rock so that it would produce water to his desperately thirsty wilderness congregation, but provoked at the rock by that thankless crowd, a sudden spell of the Levitical “anger” came upon him and converted the shepherd’s staff in his hand into an ‘instrument of cruelty’ with which he smote the rock that had been waiting to hear his voice.  Not only was the violence in his hand, it was also on his tongue, for “he spake unadvisedly with his lips” and forfeited his entry into the Promise, thereby also losing an inheritance after labouring many years towards that goal (Psalm 106:34).  That was not the first time.  The same temper may have explained the Egyptian that he had killed in the streets of Egypt and thereupon fled the land (Exodus 2:11-15).

 

  • A Temple without the Ark

David prayed, “Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me” (Psalm 51:11).  Jacob said to those two sons: “You shall be a sanctuary without the presence of God; a temple without the Ark; a tribe with the name of Jacob but without his ‘soul.’” To everyone’s hearing, he proclaimed, “O my soul, COME NOT thou into their secret.”  Ironically, one of those tribes, Levi, became the custodians of the priesthood.  That, I cannot explain.

  • A People without Honour

Not only were those tribes going to be without the soul (or life essence) of Israel, they were also going to be without the honour of their father.  A queen enjoys the honour of her husband the king; a prince enjoys the honour of his father the king; a priest enjoys the honour of his God.  A people without the honour of their father become like Cain, driven out of the presence of God for killing his brother (Genesis 4:11, 14).  Simeon and Levi would bear the name but not share in the honour of their prophetic father.

  • A People without Inheritance

As a result of Shechem, Simeon and Levi were going to be divided and scattered in Israel, with no defined tribal geographical inheritance.  Interestingly, more than two hundred years later when portions of the Promised Land were being allocated to the tribes of Israel, there was none specially allocated, for example, to the tribe of Levi.  According to Joshua 13:14, 33, But unto the tribe of Levi Moses gave not any inheritance.”  As pronounced in the dying curse of their father, the tribe of Levi was ‘scattered,’ ostensibly as priests, in six cities of refuge that were ‘divided’ or spread across the territories of the other tribes (Numbers 35:6).  Strangely, Shechem was one of those cities (Joshua 20:7).  That says many things.

A curse, not upon them but upon something in them, was activated at Shechem.  The curse seemed to take a holy and priestly guise, but it was the curse all the same; it had a religious excuse, but it was, in expression, the curse as pronounced by Jacob – that they would be scattered in Israel.  If it was not the curse, what was so impossible for Levi to also have their own portion of the land, like the other tribes, and still be a blessing to all of Israel?  What was so incompatible between having the Lord as one’s inheritance and having inheritance as well in land (Deuteronomy 18:2, 20)?

Can curses disguise and be sometimes not easily recognizable? Can they sometimes take the form of a ‘profession,’ or other forms apparently unrelated to their typical reprehensible conception?  Can a Gibeaonitish curse of perpetual servitude take the ‘holy’ form of hard labour ‘in the house of God’?  How does one fight what one does not understand?

Now therefore ye are cursed, and there shall none of you be freed from being bondmen, and hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God (Joshua 9:23).

Whereas the ancestral curse took a religious form in the case of Levi, it took an urban expression in the case of Simeon.  That tribe, unlike the tribe of Levi, had their inheritance but apparently so only in name.  They had cities taken out for them from Judah’s lot, and they gradually got absorbed by that tribe, even though they were the elder.  Some of the cities listed for Simeon in Joshua 19:2-9 are also listed for Judah in Joshua 15:20-30.  The tribe of Simeon is omitted in the dying benedictions of Moses (Deuteronomy 33:1-29).  Religion or ‘the work of God’ explained the curse in one case; urbanization masked it in the other.  Underneath them all was Shechem, more than two centuries before.  Moses laboured for an inheritance only to lose it at the border.  His brother and sister, Aaron and Miriam, were ministers with him in the journey toward the promise.  None entered the inheritance.  Abiathar seemed a more prominent case, of a Levitical priest who worked so much through his lifetime, only to be cast out of his lot when he was about to settle down into an inheritance (2 Kings 2:26-27).  The different expressions of, perhaps, a common concern, even though ‘inheritance’ would mean different things in the different contexts.

How did whole families and generations over hundreds of years come to lose inheritance in their promised land?  How did they become squatters among their brothers?  How did they become the despicable ‘custodians’ of cruelty and the ‘instruments’ thereof?  It all started with a look once upon a forgotten time, when a girl innocently went out to see, and was seen – by the wrong eyes of Prince Charming the uncircumcised.  Shechem still has eyes that ‘see.’

From The Preacher’s diary,

November 7, 2021.

 

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